People feel a lot of different ways about the holidays. Not everybody celebrates them at all, but there is a familiar narrative we’re all familiar with, that many still practice. 1) You go spend time with family that you don’t generally see throughout the year. This can be happy, uncomfortable, or a mix of the two. 2) You exchange gifts, spend time together, and eat tons and tons of food. It’s this last point that we’re going to focus on.

Not everybody is comfortable in a feasting situation. People diet for many reasons. Some can’t gain weight for professional reasons, as with models and people in other parts of the fashion industry. Some people are trying desperately to lose weight, and they know that any excess grubbing will cause them to fall off the wagon. Whatever reason, people who do not wish to overeat in a holiday setting should not be made to do so. But the statistics don’t favor those wishing to eat light. In a recent MOMA survey, most people in Britain expressed plans to eat between 2,500 and 10,000 calories on Christmas day alone. If you don’t want that to be you, you’ll have to have a strategy in place before you ever get to the holiday house.

  • One way that you can pull of this feat is by bringing all of your own food. People might give you a funny look if you pull out a tupperware with pre-portioned food for just you, but this isn’t as strange as it used to be. In the day of food allergies and personalized diets, everybody understands that not everybody eats exactly the same way. Earn yourself extra karma points around the table by bringing something extra tasty to share with everyone. If you do that, no one will care what you do or do not eat.
  • Another way to get through the holidays without gaining 15 pounds is to have a partner. This doesn’t have to be a romantic situation, just someone who’s willing to run the gauntlet of your family celebration with you, keeping you accountable on what you eat. It helps extra if this person has the same dietary goals that you do.
  • You could always just say screw it. If you aren’t going to die or lose your job because you gained a couple pounds of holiday weight, why stress out over it? A lot of people find that eating a big meal every now and then actually makes them feel better about their diet once they go back to it. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack fail at all of his dietary goals.

There are other ways to get into the holiday spirit, while still being able to fit into your pants in January. Find one that works for you, prepare to deal with mild to moderate peer pressure, and you’ll be sure to get through the holidays without blowing your diet. If you choose to go off your diet for a day, do so intentionally. This way you can eat what you want and not feel guilty.